“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ~Steve Maraboli
Sometimes I try really hard to control things.
I run two businesses so, in many ways, control gives me a sense of peace of mind.
When my team is doing what they are supposed to be doing, I can relax. When business is booming, I can relax. When I am getting what I want, I can relax.
This control freak-ness doesn’t just apply for me in just business. I used to be this way about my body, and I notice these tendencies even pop up in my relationships too.
When I feel like I am in control, I feel free. When I feel like I’m not in control, I feel frustrated, scared, and angry. It rocks my sense of security straight to my core.
It’s tough to admit, but it’s the truth.
I’m getting a lot better at relaxing without needing to be in control, and I’m realizing that the greatest control is in letting go of the need for it.
When I try to control, I get attached to how I think it should play out; I think I know the best way for things to happen. But many examples in my life have shown me that when I trust and let go of thinking I know best, the outcome is better than anything I could have imagined.
Letting go doesn’t mean giving up the desire, it means letting go of the struggle.
It’s exhausting needing to be in control all the time, isn’t it? And the truth really is that any sense of control that we think that we have is false anyway.
Our greatest power is in learning how to trust. When we focus on our desires with a sense of non-attachment to exactly how they unfold, it releases the blocks and opens us up to greater opportunity.
Here are three ways I’ve learned to trust and let go of trying so hard to control.
1. Step away.
Richard Branson has been one of my greatest mentors from afar. He amazes me with his ability to balance business, family, and fun in the perfect way for him. He doesn’t even own a desk, and never has!
I love watching the videos that Virgin posts on their blog about his life, because they remind me that creativity and great ideas come from stepping away from work and letting your mind open up. Richard says he gets some of his best ideas while in the bath, and he kite surfs every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
While we don’t all have the luxury of our own private island to jet away to (yet), we do have the ability to take a long walk outside in nature, start our morning with even just five minutes of meditation or yoga, or turn the computer off an hour earlier each night.
Taking time to enjoy life will only inspire and rejuvenate your energy for your work.
2. Stop looking around so much.
Compare and despair. Have you ever gone on Facebook to see what your friends are up to, and then twenty minutes later you are down in the dumps because somehow you ended up on a thread or a site comparing yourself to that person and where you think you should be?
The second we get caught up in comparison, it sucks the creativity and energy right out of us. One of the best things I’ve done for myself is cut back on looking around at what everyone else is doing.
I finally got to the point where I realized that, not only am I never going to measure up to them, I never want to!
I want what I want, not what they have. So now I just try to stay in my own little bubble, working on the creative projects that excite me.
Every now and then I do look around to see what others are up to, but I am super conscious to continuously check in with myself and ask, “Is this what I want to create for myself?” versus immediately judging how I measure up to their level of success.
I also remind myself that I am on the right path, because I am on my path.
3. Listen to your body.
The human body is an amazing machine, one that most of us take for granted. We get signals from our body all day long, signals I call inner wisdom or intuition. Oftentimes, we ignore those signals and choose to follow what everybody else is telling us to do instead.
Our body really has a vast amount of information that can help us with making decisions. When I am trying to control, I am totally ignoring my intuition. The more I relax into the flow, the more I rely on my intuition to guide me.
Sometimes my body tells me I need a fifteen-minute nap. Sometimes it tells me that it’s not time to write the blog post right now and instead I should focus on something else. Whatever it is, I really try to listen and override the ego part of me that tells me I must push or force things to happen in order to succeed.
It’s the difference between being solution-oriented versus problem-oriented, or in other words, inspiration-driven versus fear-driven.
As a society, I feel like we need to remind each other often that an unhappy journey does not lead to a happy ending. It’s like we believe that if an achievement doesn’t involve stress or hardship, we don’t deserve it.
We do deserve it, and we deserve a life built around a lot of ease and fun.
What’s one thing you do to let go and release stress?
Man lying down image via Shutterstock